used car advice needed

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 28, 2009 3:10 AM GMT
    I am in the market for a used car for commuting purposes. I would like to spend no more than $3,000 on a simple set of wheels for commuting purposes.

    At my price range, the cars I am looking at have substantial miles showing on the odo, and I'm sketchy over buying a car that will just start falling apart. So can anyone recommend a good high mileage vehicle? I am looking for something that can last another 75k with basic maintenance (and of course the occasional part replacement).

    Thank you
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    Jul 28, 2009 3:14 AM GMT
    stay away from american cars.. yeah new and mostly new are okay but when they start getting old they fall to bits..

    and really american cars are shit (that includes the aussie ones, british ones, ford, holden and shit)

    Anyway.. honda's if they have been taken care of can keep going well over 500 thousand K's I know tons of honda's that have reached 6 and 7 hundred thousand and still kicking, they aren't hugely comfortable but what do you expect hehe

    Mazda are similar, toyotas never die when loved just a little..

    most European cars are okay, kinda, I don't hugely know much about there life.. I know some real british cars are still good (not the ones that are relabeled fords/holdens/so on)
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    Jul 28, 2009 4:20 AM GMT
    Can't go wrong with a used Civic. For $3000, you can probably get a late 90's or early 00's model, coupe or sedan. Or a Toyota Corolla.

    For really old cars over 50K miles, some things to look for..

    - Make sure the owner changed the timing belt. It's pretty common to get them replaced at 70K miles. If the owner hasn't done change it, then it's probably going to be $600 at the dealer for timing belt, accessory belt, and water pump. But it should run around $300 at an independent garage. The belt itself is cheap. It's just a very time consuming process and that's why it costs so much.

    - Look for leaks around the top of the engine. Assuming that the previous owner hasn't steam cleaned the engine, if you see oil/gunk build-up, then the cylinder head gasket needs to be replaced.

    - Look for leaks on the ground where it's parked. On old cars, there could be leaks from the radiator or oil pan gasket or oil pan spigot or CV boots or brake lines.

    - Make sure the car is cold before you check this. Unscrew the radiator cap and check for weird colors. If you see red or brown, then there might be corrosion in the radiator.

    - If you're looking for a manual car, ask when the clutch has been replaced. Usually clutches should be replaced after 75K of normal driving. You should be able to tell if the clutch is worn, by test driving it. If you're looking for an automatic, there's not much to check. Take it for a test drive and see if the auto transmission shifts smoothly. If it seems jerky. Or if it keeps hunting for gears, then there might be something wrong.

    - Carefully inspect the outside of the car. Try to view it on a clear sunny day. If you see masking lines or uneven paint color or uneven shine, then it means it had some body work done. Could be a major collision or could be just a parking lot fender bender. Either way, ask about it.

    - Be suspicious of over usage of air fresheners. It means the car stinks inside for whatever reason.. moisture leak, smoker, dead animal somewhere, old burger dropped under the seat, and so on. icon_lol.gif
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    Jul 28, 2009 4:27 AM GMT
    I learned this the hard way, check body panels for VIN stickers. I bought a used 2000 Acura and didn't realize until I washed it the first time that it had the entire left side of the car replaced. The paint job was REALLY good, except they painted over the VIN sticker on the driver's door. This is because on replacement body panels, the VIN basically says it's a replacement part. I'm not sure of all car makes, but Honda and Acura lines have VIN stickers on all major body panels (doors, bumpers, hood, etc...)
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    Jul 28, 2009 12:36 PM GMT
    thanks... I am leaning towards a late model civic (99/2001), however does anyone have any thoughts on Korean models? I've seen a few Hyundais (accents and elantras) that fit my budget nicely but I am not sold on their reliability (esp the older models).

    I'm staying away from American cars for now.

    I have a small laundry list of things to look/ask when I check out used cars, however all the advice above is greatly appreciated. Given where the prospective vehicle is, I may have a car-nut friend (or hire a mechanic) to come along with me... if I'm lucky, I'll take the car to a proper dealer (a Honda to a Honda dealership) to give it the once over.
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    Jul 28, 2009 12:40 PM GMT
    older models of Hyundais aren't good, they don't have great reliability, however they are really cheap to repair.. the later models (most likely outside the prices you are looking at) have much much better reliability, still relatively cheap to repair but have improved resale values.
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    Jul 28, 2009 12:41 PM GMT
    if you can take a mechanic/car nut with you, do it... but don't let them push you towards american cars haha icon_razz.gif
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Jul 28, 2009 12:58 PM GMT
    I agree with the Honda & Toyota recommendations. I would steer clear of Hyundai and Kia for the age you'd be looking for. Their quality was not up to par during that time.
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    Jul 28, 2009 2:55 PM GMT

    Hondas and Toyotas are definitely good bets. I've also done well with Volvos in that price range. Whatever you go for, pay a mechanic to look it over for you before you buy it. And try to set aside a little money (say $100 a month) for the inevitable repairs that an older car will need over a year or two.
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    Jul 28, 2009 3:05 PM GMT
    My brother bought a used Volvo with ~100K miles on it... he managed to squeak out another 130K miles before calling it quits.

    It was a reliable yes but honestly, I was scared of that car. It was a true beater and he definitely got his $$'s worth.
  • danisnotstr8

    Posts: 2579

    Jul 28, 2009 3:17 PM GMT
    Honda civic.